Liam hated being tough with Maya but this time, she’d gone too far. The car ride was silent, with Liam glancing at his daughter in the rearview mirror.
“I’m still waiting on this explanation.”
“I didn’t start it, Dad.”
“It’s not about who started it. It’s about who ended it.”
“Well, if Desiree didn’t irritate me everyday…”
“So you punched her in the face?”
“I punched her because she called me a name.”
“People are going to call you names, babe. That’s just life.”
“Yeah… but no one had to laugh.”
“So you punched her?”
“Because you were embarrassed.”
“What’s embarrassed?”
“It means something happened to you and because everyone thought it was funny, it made you uncomfortable. Like you want to run away and hide…or in your case, punch her in the nose.”
“Then yes. I was embarrassed,” Maya said slowly.

Liam was always in awe of how quickly she’d grown and how brilliant she was at just 7 years old. He could remember the moment she was born, how she opened her eyes and grinned with all her gums at him. He’d been madly in love with her ever since.
“We don’t solve problems with our fists, Maya,” he continued. He struggled to maintain a firm voice with her, but being in the driver’s seat helped. He knew that one look into her big brown eyes and he’d be putty in her tiny hands.
“I know, Daddy.”
“Well, if you know, then we don’t have to have this conversation again.”
“We won’t, Daddy. I’m sorry,” Maya said. One glance in the rearview mirror and he felt his heart breaking as she hung her head into her chest.

“Too bad it’s not me you have to worry about,” Liam whispered to himself as he pulled in front of his apartment. Parked on the other side of the street was his ex, Katrina. As they arrived, she stepped from the car, ready to collect their daughter.
“Katrina,” Liam said, flatly as he opened the back door for their daughter.
“Liam. I wish you would have called before you picked Maya up. Would’ve saved me a trip.”
“The school called me first.”
Katrina scoffed before snatching Maya’s bookbag from his hand. “We already had a discussion in the car about fighting.”
“Did she tell you this is the second time the school has called because she punched someone?”
“What?” Liam asked, his eyes falling to his daughter, whose chin was still tucked into her chest.
“That explains the suspension.”
“Suspension??? Oh great. I have to work—“
“And you think I don’t?”
“You also forgot to bring me the paperwork this weekend,” Katrina said, practically shoving their daughter into the car.

Liam had a flashback of his tangled weekend with Elise and leaving the envelope on the counter in a rush. “I’m sorry. It completely slipped my mind.” Katrina scoffed.
“If you’re not serious about this, we can forget the whole thing.”
“No. I want my daughter to live with me.”
“Then grow up,” Katrina said, before getting into her car. As she pulled away, Liam raised both his middle fingers high enough for her to see them in her rearview mirror.

“How do you feel about meeting my daughter?”
“What?” Kim asked from the kitchen. She’d heard him, but she was immediately irate that they were having this conversation. Again.
“We’ve been dating for months now. I wanna take things to the next level with you,” Liam said, a grin spreading across his face.
“You might be the only dude in the Northern Hemisphere that is still trying to do the monogamy thing,” Kim said, taking her seat on the floor next to him, chuckling.

She had to admit, the sex was fantastic. Liam was very good at alternating from caring and compassionate to rough and kinky. Kim glanced over at him, catching him staring like he always did. “I’m serious,” he said in a low voice.
“So am I,” Kim said, sticking a spoonful of pistachio ice cream into her mouth. Liam clammed up because he knew that any disagreements would send Kim packing. Any time with her is better than none at all.
“She’ll be coming to live with me soon,” he said, carefully.
“That’s good. I know you’ve wanted that for a long time,” Kim said in her most genuine voice.
“I love her. I’ve never loved anyone more. I would be a stay-at-home dad, if I could.” Kim loved to hear him talk about his daughter; it was a vulnerable side of him he rarely showed. However, she knew it was nothing more than a sales pitch.
“I just thought you’d like to meet her, since your paths will cross eventually.”

Kim sat down the pint of ice cream and turned towards him. “Liam… I like you, I really do. You’re sexy, fun, you’re an amazing guy… but I don’t want to be in a relationship.”
“I know! I know, I just—“
“You’re not understanding.”
“No, I do…It’s just—“
“Liam, I don’t want to meet your daughter.” The words came out like a punch as they struck Liam. Hard.
“I’m not…a relationship person. I’m not good with commitment and accountability and that’s all a relationship is. Plus kids…not really a fan.”
“Oh, that’s bullshit and you know it…”
“How are you going to tell me?”
“Just say you don’t want to be with ME. Don’t put on this big show about how you don’t want to be accountable, when I’ve literally never asked you to do ANYTHING but be here!”
“And this is why I never want to show up! Because I have to dodge proposals and family planning tactics EVERYTIME I see you!”

Liam was on his feet before she could rescind her words. “Lee… I’m sorry,” Kim said, her tone calmer now.
“Nah, you good. You’re right. I try to be a decent nigga and it’s too much for you,” he said, throwing his jacket on.
“That’s not fair.”
“Yeah, well…” Liam said as he exited. He needed to leave before he said anything regrettable.

The alert startled Elise, who’d forgotten to turn her phone off before she walked into the restaurant. “I’m so sorry,” she said to Sean as she reached into her purse. It was a text from Liam and she felt her heart leap from her chest.

You busy?
I’m out right now. What’s up?
I miss you.
*eye roll emoji*

The phone went off again, surprising Elise even more. She and Liam typically didn’t have long conversations.

Is it a date?
Elise raised an eyebrow as she answered the question.
Are you jealous?
Anyone I know?

Elise struggled to hold her attention on the conversation in front of her, but her date seemed to not mind her rudeness. In fact, he’d been so wrapped up in talking about himself, he didn’t notice Elise hadn’t spoken a word in several minutes.

Will you take him home?
That’s none of your business.
He won’t make you scream like I can.

Elise had to cross her legs to soothe the throbbing that had begun between her thighs.

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